STRATHMORE — “Lucy,” a multi-colored painted bus parked at Sunnyside Elementary School west Strathmore on Tuesday is a mobile unit sponsored by Save the Children, STC, to serve families, school districts and communities. It’s not just a rolling classroom, it’s a multiple use vehicle, distributing early learning materials, books, and food security, said staff from Save the Children.
“This is our first event,” said Victoria Rodriguez, Save the Children Prenatal to 5 coordinator. “But you’ll be seeing the mobile unit around Tulare County and Fresno County supporting the school districts that partner with Save the Children and their surrounding communities.”
They had books to give families in the community, as well as a prenatal to 5 program for Kindergarten readiness with early learning games, crafts, and fun activities for young children and their families. Besides the activities, Save the Children was distributing 170 food boxes to Sunnyside families and the general community.
“This is such an amazing program. It helps first time mothers and young mothers with education, and nutritional and health information prior to the arrival of their baby,” said a Save the Children staff member.
“We will be providing an early learning experience for parents and their children, and today they will be exploring topics like social emotional learning and early writing skills, problem solving, health and nutrition. They will also be reading aloud with a Save the Children coordinator,” Rodriguez said.
Diana Mata, who has been the Early Steps Save the Children Coordinator at Sunnyside for 10 years, explained the community lacks resources, and many people don’t have cars.
“The school is a resource for them, and the bus `Lucy’ is here to stay. This is now part of the Sunnyside Union School district,” Mata said.
She spoke to the parents and children at the Kindergarten Readiness Class in Spanish about the bus and the early learning programs that will be sponsored by Save the Children.
Mata later explained they thought this was the perfect time to introduce the bus and the programs as families are taking a break during Thanksgiving, and the school wanted to make sure they have the materials for learning. Also the chicken dinner provided was a well-balanced meal, as well as the fruits and vegetables given to families. Mata said she was pleased that there were so many families participating in the event.
One of the games at Kindergarten Readiness was for children to identify cards with fruits on them and match them together. Mata encouraged children and parents helped them. They would get a fresh apple, banana, or orange of their choice after playing the game.
STC was there to support families and children in rural areas, said the many coordinators at Sunnyside.
“We are very excited and lucky to have this bus,” said Anna Bravo, “We are a little more distanced from the community we serve, Plainview. So we can take the school to them.
“We will also share the bus with our other STC colleagues and deliver books, school resources, and food security as well as other items to Tipton, Farmersville, Kings River in Reedley, Alpaugh, Pleasant View, Alta Vista, and Kings Canyon.”
Sunnyside parent Adriana Ambriz said it was awesome what they were doing for the community. Especially promoting reading at the early age level for the children.
Ana Guzman and her little girl Melissa, 4, had fun at the Kindergarten Readiness class. “This is a great activity, and Melissa is really excited to be here,” Guzman said.
Miguel Quijada was there with his son, Israel, 2. He said, “This is really good for the community, and especially teaching us about having healthy food, our kids, and about our diet.”
Before distributing food packages the STC coordinators played a game with families and children at the Kindergarten readiness event and they handed out Christmas wrapped presents when people answered their questions correctly.
It was a wonderful afternoon event for families and people were happy to go home with gifts and food packages.
“I think this is an excellent event for the community, and Diana Mata is a very great person for helping the people of Plainview and Sunnyside. Being a small school and community I believe that the superintendent and school board are very involved with everything that goes on and it makes a big difference for the community,” said Adella Totty, who has worked for the school for 34 years, and is now busy with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. “I stay involved.”